Last week, former Marine captain and State Department employee Matthew Hoh made headlines when he went public with his resignation from the administration over his opposition to the continuation of the war in Afghanistan. In a four-page letter he sent to the State Department, he explained his resignation by writing that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan serves to “bolster a failing state, while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted by [the Afghan] people.”
This past Sunday, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria interviewed Hoh about his views on the war. During one segment of the interview, Zakaria asked Hoh why he feels the U.S. should begin to draw down its troops from the country. Hoh replied that he doesn’t see the Afghan conflict as one between the U.S. and the Taliban, but rather as a 35-year long “civil war” between rural Pashtuns “who want to be left alone” and an urban government the U.S. is backing:
HOH: I firmly believe that we are taking part in a civil war. We are on the same side of the civil war that the Soviets intervened on.
ZAKARIA: So, you have a divide among the Pashtuns. There’s the urban middle class. And Karzai, presumably, who is a Pashtun, comes from this urban middle class.
ZAKARIA: Many of them left the country after the — during the years of the civil war. And the ones who have stayed to fight, who fought the Soviet Union and who are now fighting us, are the rural, mountain tribe Pashtuns who resent the central government and its intrusions.
HOH: Who want to be left alone.
Hoh also told Zakaria that he thinks keeping 60,000 troops in Afghanistan is detrimental to U.S. security. “Occupying a location only provides justification and only lends credence to the goals of that organization,” he said. “It only inspires young Muslim men to defend their culture against an occupying army, which is what we are.”
When the CNN host asked Hoh why he was speaking out, the former State Department employee cited support from two groups: Afghan Americans and U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan. “I’ve had a lot of Afghan-Americans contact me and say, ‘Matt, you get it,'” Hoh told Zakaria. “I’ve gotten many e-mails from guys [serving] in Afghanistan…men and women who are saying, ‘Matt, thanks for doing this.'”
Last month, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) spoke at an event sponsored by Brave New Films’ “Rethink Afghanistan” project. Grayson told the audience that he’s been to 175 countries and that he has come to the conclusion that the best foreign policy is to “leave people alone,” echoing Hoh’s comments on Afghanistan: